6 Parks, 3 days…wait what? A guide to Disney and Universal

Yes, you read that correctly, 6 parks; Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, Epcot, Animal Kingdom, Islands of Adventures and Universal Studios all in 3 days. You are probably thinking we (sister and husband) were crazy to cram 6 parks in 3 days, which yes, we were, but it is totally doable! This was the first time I’ve been to Disney and Universal as an adult. The last time I went to Disney and Universal was almost 17 years ago! I wanted to fit in everything in a short amount of time.

Time of year

We traveled to Disney and Universal right before Thanksgiving and flew back on Thanksgiving morning (traveler tip: traveling on Thanksgiving is super easy!)

Where we stayed

We rented an Airbnb in Davenport, Florida about 30 minutes south of Disney and Universal. We stayed in a single family home that had 4 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms and a pool and spa! I highly recommend checking out the listing to the Airbnb, the house was reasonably priced, communication with hosts was smooth and great location. You can check out the listing here. Don’t have an Airbnb account and would like to try it out? You can use my code for $40 off your first stay!

Day 1: Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios

We started our first day at the parks at Magic Kingdom and arrived there 30 minutes before it opened and there were already people lining up to get into the park. I would recommend taking the ferry over instead of the monorail. There were WAY less people waiting for the ferry because it’s a little longer walk than the monorail. We didn’t realize that it was Mickey’s 90th Birthday Celebration, the park was pretty crazy but it was also cool because they had different events going on for the celebration.

Most of the rides had 2 hour plus waits and since we were fitting in all Disney parks in 2 days we didn’t want to stand in line all day. We ate lunch at Columbia Harbor House, you can order in line or order ahead on the app (saves so much time!) The food there was pretty good. After lunch we went over to Sleepy Hallow snack stand and got churro ice cream sandwiches which were AMAZING!!

Churro ice cream sandwich!
Churro ice cream sandwich!

In the afternoon we headed over to Hollywood Studios. You can take a bus over but we ended up taking the monorail back to our car and driving over since this was our last park of the day. As soon as we got to Hollywood Studios we made our way over to the new Toy Story Land! It was crowded but worth it! We grabbed the lunch box tarts and the grown-ups lemonade at Woody’s Lunch Box. Both good! We didn’t go on any rides in Toy Story Land because of the long wait times.

Lunch box tart!
Lunch box tart!
Enterance to Toy Story Land!
Enterance to Toy Story Land!

After checking out Hollywood Studios we made out way back and spotted Donald Duck (my favorite) and got some pictures! I had a Donald Duck shirt on, he loved it!

Day 2: Animal Kingdom and Epcot

Our 2nd day started at Animal Kingdom. After viewing the app wait times we knew it was best to pick a ride we wanted to go on and decided on the Kilamanjaro Safari. Even though we got to the ride just as the park opened there was still a 45 minutes wait! When we got off the wait time was 2 hours!! There aren’t a ton of rides in Animal Kingdom but there is still a lot to see and do including Pandora, the World of Avatar. The detail and work that went into it was incredible.

After Pandora, the World of Avatar we went to grab lunch at Flame Tree Barbecue and ordered ahead using the app. Food there was pretty good, as expected for food inside the park. Once we finished up at Animal Kingdom we made our way over to Epcot (my favorite Disney Park.) You can take the monorail or bus, depending on what park you are at. This was the first park we used the FastPass at:

· Gran Fiesta Tour starring The Three Caballeros – another favorite.

· Living with the Land – really cool and would recommend!·

Meet Disney pals at the Epcot character spot – highly recommend if you want pictures with Mickey, Minnie and Goofy!

While making our way around Epcot, we got funnel cakes at the funnel cake stand (America) those are a must! After checking out all the countries we made our way over to Mexico to have dinner at San Angel Inn Restaurante. The inside looks like you are having dinner at night and you get to see the Grand Fiesta ride while eating dinner. Food and service were both awesome!

Funnel cake!
Funnel cake!

Day 3: Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure

I was most excited for Universal/Islands of Adventures as that is where Harry Potter World is! Just like the other mornings, we got the park before it opened. Both parks and Universal City Walk are all together. Once you park, you have to walk to the parks and will first walk through Universal City Walk in order to reach the entrance of Universal and Islands of Adventure. Universal City Walk has a tons of restaurants, you’ll want to spend sometime checking it out! We started our day at Islands of Adventure and went straight to Hogwarts Express to take the train over to Universal where Diagon Alley is located. I don’t think I’ve ever walked so fast in my life but I was so excited! Once we got into the train car we took the 5 minute ride over to Hogsmede. The train car looks exactly as it does in the movie. You aren’t allowed to take video on the train and I didn’t want to risk it! You’ll want to take Hogwarts Express both way (you need park-to-park to do so) you will get two different experiences.

We got off at Kings Cross and made our way over to Diagon Alley. It looks like a regular building at first but once you walk through, it looks exactly like the movies! I was overwhelmed walking in and was zooming around to all the shops! We spent sometime going through the shops, we picked up chocolate frogs, Bertie Bott’s Every-Flavour Beans and fizzing whizbees at SugerPlums Sweet Shop.

My sister and I at Diagon Alley!
My sister and I at Diagon Alley!

We ordered lunch at the Leaky Cauldron (of course!) It was amazing and the food was good! You also have to order the butterbeer! After lunch we took Hogwarts Express back to Islands of Adventure where Hogsmede is located. Just like Diagon Alley, Hogsmede is amazing!! The wait for the Hogwarts ride was 2 hours and we decided not to wait and regret it! I’ve heard so many great things about the ride and that it is worth the wait. Hence why my husband and I are going back to Universal in May.

Gringotts Bank
Gringotts Bank

After Hogsmede we ended up checking out the rest of Islands of Adventures and Universal Studios, The Cat In The Hat ride is located in Seuss land and highly recommended.Our day ended at Universal with a stop at VooDoo Donuts which is at Universal City Walk. This is a must!!! We are looking forward to enjoying more donuts in May. Traveler Tips:

  • Download the Disney and Universal app. It is AMAZING. You can see wait times for rides in real time. This was huge as we were able to make decisions on what rides to go on.
  • Buy tickets before your trip. It will save you time in line.
  • If you can buy park hopper passes, this way you can go to as many parks as you’d like in 1 day! You can do this for Disney and Universal.
  • Arrive early to the parks. We waited in line even though we arrived 30 minutes early.
  • Use FastPass! You can use it for up to 3 rides per day at 1 park. Once you sign up you will have an hour to get to the ride to take advantage of your FastPass.
  • You can’t bring a selfie stick in the park. You either have to toss it or check it in with guest services.
  • Check out Disney Springs! They have a ton of great restaurants.
  • If you are planning on having meals at a sit down restaurant inside the park, book ahead!

Would we do 6 parks in 3 days again?

We would but go when the park is less crowded. There were rides we wanted to go on but couldn’t justify waiting 2 hours in line when we had another park to go to. We had an extra day before we flew out and didn’t go to any parks which was nice because we were able to relax before flying back home.

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